In today’s world of marketing, connecting with your audience in a highly personalized way is critical for delivering ROI. While marketers have shifted their focus towards trendy platforms such as Facebook and Twitter as a way to reach the masses, emails still maintain a large reach.
As of 2013, there were 3.9 billion email accounts sending over 196 billions emails daily (source & source). Emails ensure your message is delivered and seen by the recipient, in fact, 45 times more likely (source).
Emails are a prime example of permissive marketing as your subscribers have told you that they want to hear from you when they signed up. Your messages will now sit alongside those from their friends and family.
With the ability to segment your audience in different stages of the buyer’s journey, you can personalize and tailor your message for each type so that it resonates and provides them valuable content. This in turn will help build brand loyalty and lead to conversion of leads resulting in higher ROI.
Here’s a look some brands which have adopted email marketing campaigns as part of their digital strategy to drive their bottom line, either in the short or long term.
1. Warby Parker
Warby Parker is brand of prescription eyeglasses which primarily sells online (though there are physical retail stores). As spectacles and contacts users need their subscriptions to be checked annually for changes, Warby Parker sends customers highly customized email reminders.
- The email is personal and directly address the person with “Dear Joe”
- The content within the email reminds the person that they need to take an action. Either find a new pair of glasses or get a new eye test done or perhaps both.
- Provides information about where to go to renew prescription with clever use of co-marketing with ZocDoc.
Warby Parker makes it very difficult for users to find an excuse not to take an action that they know is advisable for their health.
Birchbox is a monthly online based service which provides its subscribers with a box of four to five samples of beauty related products. Here’s a sample image of their email campaign notifying customers about a special offer.
- The subject line grabs attention with a title “We Forgot Something in your February Box”
- The tone is very personable and addresses the subscriber by her name “Hi Pamela”
- Copy makes subscribers feel highly-valued as they are being provided a gift which is related to the beauty domain, which fits the interest profile of Birchbox customers
The company used a clever way to get attention of the customer (they actually hadn’t forgotten an item in her box) to view the discount code
3. Cook Smarts
Cook Smarts is a website which helps people learn how to cook and be healthy. Their customers are diverse and range from people who were never taught how to cook to those just looking to stay up to date with best practices. As a subscriber of Cook Smarts, you receive weekly highly educational emails in the form of newsletters containing weekly meal plans, cooking guides, infographics, and online cooking lessons.
- Each email is highly standardized and contains 3 sections (one regarding the menu, one for how to’s, and the last a tip)
- Top right of the email contains a strong call to action by asking emails to be shared with friends, family and co-workers.
By standardizing the copy and providing timely content, Cook Smarts saves time for its subscribers in hunting down content on its site. They are positioning themselves as the go to educational source and make subscribers look forward to the next one.
The cloud file storage service Dropbox implements a freemium business model where users are provided a limited amount of storage space which can be upgraded at a cost. Dropbox consistently monitors inactive accounts so as not to waste money on storage space and uses a unique email to pull users back to the service
- Highly personable by addressing the user directly with “Hi Jerry”
- Email kept short to emphasize non-intrusion and uses playful graphics
- Reminds how they as service can be helpful and directs readers to where they can learn more if they wish
Drybar is a chain of salons which provides hairstyling services (mainly blowouts) and accessory products. Their image as a fashionable service is carried over into their emails which are extremely well-designed and easy to scan and read. Below is a sample email which informs subscribers about a new product that has been released.
- Clever and trendy copy which aligns with their brand
- Short and concise description which tells you what you need to know; nothing more and nothing less
6. Turnstyle Cycle
Boutique indoor cycling studio Turnstyle Cycle provides subscription based group-workouts. When their members are nearing end of their current subscription, the company sends a reminder email which contains personal copy that the reader can not help but feel close to the brand.
- The design of the email contains a branded header
- Copy is extremely friendly and sincere using phrases such as “feel free to give us a call – we want to help” and “please let us know if we can help accommodate in any way possible.”
Stitcher is an on-demand radio known specifically for its vast podcast collection through its website and mobile applications. The company sends all its users a highly personalized email based on their listening behavior titled “recommended for you.” Here’s an example
- Email comes across as extremely personalized and created just for the subscriber making you feel special and close to the brand.
- Each recommendation is a CTA and they are large enough to be hit easily with a thumb (Stitcher realizes many users access the service via mobile)
- Realizes that podcast listeners are intellectual by nature and helps them find other great content keeping them on the site and service longer
Trendy and chic office supply and furniture store Poppin is known for its modern, colorful and stylish designs. Existing customers who have bought from the service happy with deals and offers is an important task and emails are a good way to inform your loyal customers. Poppin does it in a trendy manner to match their brand’s style.
- The use of bright and bold colors with soft fonts create a sense of ultra modern and trendy design which matches their branding
- The design of the message is kept simple with blocks resembling a cabinet containing 4 distinct call-to-actions
- Images of furniture over each CTA to remind the user of the quality of their products]
- The copy though minimal uses a pun “let’s hold handles” to appeal to the sense of humor of the reader
9. Charity: Water
Charity Water is a non-profit organization that provides clean and safe drinking water to developing nations. Realizing the reluctance of people to donate to charities due to lack of accountability, Charity Water uses automated transactional emails to show the donor how their money is making an impact over time.
- Simple design with project timeline and accompanying table instantly tells the viewer which country their money went to and for which project without having to read
- Provides further relevant material if the user wishes to find out more
- Copy is friendly and Charity Water positions themselves as friends rather than an unknown entity who simply demands money
Social news and entertainment company Buzzfeed is known for its use of memes and comedy to deliver content. Buzzfeed emails provides content to entice readers and pique their attention with the goal to follow the call-to-action and land on their website.
Here’s an example of their email in your inbox.
- Short and punchy subject line which follow a pattern. If the subject is a command like in the image below, the preview text of the email will be a logical thought related to that command.
- Once you open the email the copy continues being punchy, and uses an image with humor associated with the content
- Provides a clear call-to-action link which Buzzfeed can use to track activity data if clicked and further tailor content to match the interest of the user
Paypal is an online payments and money transfer behemoth which moved over $228 billion in 26 currencies and across 190 countries (source). Yet when it comes to their email campaign to acquire new customers and remind existing customers of benefits of their service, PayPal’s approach is modest yet effective.
- The headline pique’s interest of the audience by addressing a global pain point of splitting the bill with in a clever and concise
- Provides a visual guide showing how easy and quick the process is easing fears that it may be cumbersome.
- Uses an image of people smiling and enjoying over food to visually reinforce the message
The American car-sharing company does not want you to abandon them. If you begin the process of signing up with service but leave without completion, Zipcar will send you an email attempting to nudge you back to their website.
- By asking someone to come back and sign-up on a page that they have abandoned is risky but Zipcar uses lighthearted copy to avoid seeming pushy, forceful, or demanding.
- Provides a call-to-action link for convenience that the user can go back to quickly without having to restart the process
- Clearly reminds the reader the value of using Zipcar and even tugs at their moral fiber by mentioning the service being planet-friendly.
The online retailer sells items such as jewelry, games, books, food, drink, and DIY kits. The company focuses on email campaigns to subtly push leads to take an action and one of the best ways to do so is by creating a sense of urgency.
- The company focuses on the value of acting now in their copy – “Don’t you think Mom would’ve liked a faster delivery?” The value being if you are shopping last minute, you can still avoid getting scolded by having a gift show up on Mother’s Day. Compare this to “Order your Mother’s day gift now before preferred shipping ends”
- Even the call-to-action focuses on creating a sense of urgency using the phrase “rush over to see our mother’s day collection.”
Loft is a specialty retail store for women offering versatile yet affordable clothing. Loft’s customer-focused emails attempt to demonstrate that the brand understands cluttered inboxes and wants their readers to filter topics so that they can deliver a personalized experience.
- Makes the reader feel wanted and appreciated and also ensures that Loft’s emails don’t go ignored.
- The copy takes a very friendly and helpful tone creating a sense of authenticity in their request and who doesn’t want to be helped
15. Kate Spade New York
Kate Spade is an American fashion design house known for their bold and stylish designer clothing. The brand has perfect the art of playful sophistication and this carries over into their email campaigns which rewards customers for providing feedback.
- The copy makes the customer feel highly valued not only for their business but also for their opinion
- The call-to-action is incentivized for readers (completing the survey) with a one-time discount for doing so
The feedback provided by customers will help Kate Spade build a profile to segment customers and deliver accurate content to them
16. Chubbies Shorts
Chubbies shorts is an online clothing brand which focuses primarily on men’s shorts and swim trunks. Since cart abandonment in ecommerce is quite common (over 68% – source), Chubbies Shorts sends gentle reminders along with a quick link back to the check-out cart in an attempt to recover lost conversions.
- The email starts with the brand logo highlighting the patriotic phrase “American Made Shorts” to capture the attention of its audience which are mainly young males in fraternities who are extremely proud.
- Copy does not push the user but uses friendly text making it seem that the user may have casually forgotten to finish their purchase
- Use visual image of a guy relaxing on the beach to infer to the user that they can do the same with their brand of shorts
Canva is an online graphic design software offering free access to a wide assortment of design tools. When they launch a new design concept, they inform their email subscribers in a concise, short, and visual copy.
- Creative yet minimal design which quickly allows reader to glance and preview each new design without having to take any action
- Copy is in a professional and informative tone
Bonobos is an e-commerce apparel company which designs and sells men’s clothing. Bonobos creates a seamless shopping experience for its subscribers by creating emails which encourages users to take action without having to put much effort like they normally would
- The structure of the email caters to those who don’t have time to waste scrolling through pages for shopping for an item. The design is simple and the copy extremely concise
- A direct pathway is provided with option to select the correct size of shorts and surety of it being in stock.
19. Harpoon Brewery
The American brewery company makes sure it remembers you on one of the most important days in the year – your birthday. Their simple and timely email feels like it is coming from a friend rather than a company which automates its emails.
- The copy is personal and wishes the reader happy birthday by their name
- The tone of the mail is extremely friendly as if it was an acquaintance or friend who sent the mail.
- The image strategically imitates the view a person would get when they walk in a room when they are the center of the attention – as in a birthday party
- Strong call to action with placement of social links on the top right.
Bonafide is a service that seeks to build and prioritize leads from your colleagues personal and professional network in one location. While nurturing their own leads, the company uses a series of emails which seem sincere and helpful.
- The call-out in orange as seen below tells the reader why they are being contacted. Recipients may not always remember who you are and with no reminder, emails will usually go straight to the trash bin.
- Provides link to another guide which the reader may find helpful for their business
- Provides contact information as a sign of genuine interest of helping and making the reader’s job easy to get started if they haven’t done so already
21. Focus Pointe Global
Market research is a complicated and lengthy process and this is the gap which Focus Pointe fills by providing the correct focus groups. To find the correct people, the company sends informational mails to its subscribers.
- The copy is extremely short and all the relevant information such as topic, incentive, length, and spots available is provided in bold
- The instruction to begin is presented in a very simply call-to-action which is repeated in two locations; one as a graphic and one as a simple text, in case someone is loading the email without images.
The American low-cost carrier Jetblue monitors user accounts which have been inactive for a long period and sends them a reminder mail which really pulls at the reader’s heart strings.
- The use of the heart and words such as “breaking up,” “relationship,” “love,” and let’s stay together in their copy suggests that you are in a relationship with the brand which makes the brand establish themselves as human
- Clever use of heart logos used repeatedly and copy which makes the email seem extremely sincere
- Email ends with jetblue’s value proposition reminding the reader the benefits of flying with JetBlue
Petflow is an online marketplace for cat and dog food and treats. When sending promotional emails to their subscribers, they take a bold, creative and unheard of approach. Instead of informing customers that they would receive 10-15% off their next purchase, they actually provide an exact dollar value of savings that would be lost unless readers took action.
- Subject line “you have $4.25 left to spend” creates a sense of curiosity as the reader will wonder where they can spend that they are not aware of
- Given that loss aversion is a very popular motivator, people are more likely to act on losing $4.25 over losing 10-15% which is an arbitrary value and not indicative exact savings..
- Urgency is created by making the offer available only for one day.
Boden is a british clothing retailer which sells primarily online. Realizing the positive effects of product reviews on conversion rate (up to 83% on products with 20+ reviews – source), the company started a email campaign to encourage people who purchased the item to leave a review.
- Large call to action buttons at the bottom to leave the review reducing the work of the purchaser to find the link on the website
Copy is light-hearted and uses humor and a polite tone while making a request making it seem genuine and giving the impression that the reader’s review is valued.
- An incentive is also offered to reward the reader for taking time to help
Harry’s is an online retailer dealing in men’s shaving products. The company uses the order delivered confirmation email as an opportunity to strengthen customer loyalty and increase customer lifetime value.
- The design of the email is very straightforward and resembles a infographic which informs the user of the good news and offers support if any is required.
- Harry’s also includes an educational part in the email which gives the reader some tips on how to shave with their products which sets up the customer for success which is a win-win scenario for both parties involved.
Email Marketing is often overlooked to more in-fashion strategies such as social media marketing, seo, and mobile analytics. However, if done correctly, email marketing is one of the most powerful and innovative marketing channels to grow your business. For every $1 spent, email marketing generates $38 in ROI (source).
Email is the only private mode of communication between you and your prospect. It has an opt-in process that turn your emails into the purest form of permission marketing. You can use it to build brand loyalty and nurture leads by providing relevant and personal content.
Email marketing should be a mainstay in your digital strategy and as seen in the examples above, getting the best results from each campaign requires a comprehensive strategy, effective implementation, and continual adaption along your customer’s journey.
Email is here to stay, so don’t miss out on opportunities that other marketing channels don’t provide.